The Careers and Enterprise Company has had its role beefed up in the new careers strategy, but hasn’t always had good press for what it’s achieved with government funding so far. Claudia Harris responds
The careers strategy aims to help every young person, no matter what their background, to build a rewarding career. At the Careers and Enterprise Company we welcome it and look forward to helping implement it.
The strategy has two particularly important ideas. The first is its endorsement of the Gatsby benchmarks, which lay out a broad range of support to help transition young people into the world of work. They move us beyond debates on employer encounters or one-to-one career guidance in favour of a multifaceted approach. Our own focus was on employer engagement and workplace experiences; the strategy broadens this focus.
We will be working to ensure that young people have the best opportunity to develop their careers. This includes working with careers professionals and the wider careers sector, while continuing to ask employers to volunteer their time. We have always believed that personal guidance delivered by professionals is important and welcome the opportunity to actively support schools and colleges to develop the guidance they offer.
With the ongoing reforms to technical education we need to open young people’s eyes to the full range of career opportunities
The second idea centres on local clusters of schools, colleges, ILPs and employers working together as networks. This approach is inevitably more difficult to implement than a single “project”, but it is the best way to ensure young people receive input from a broad range of sources.
With the ongoing reforms to technical education we need to open young people’s eyes to the full range of career opportunities, and ensure colleges and other providers of technical education engage from an early age. Our own research shows this is not currently happening in all schools, and the strategy makes addressing it a priority.
The CEC was set up over two years ago to focus on employer engagement with education. With this mandate we established a network of enterprise coordinators working with clusters of 20 schools and colleges to help connect them to local employers and service providers. Each institution is supported by a business volunteer whose role is to work with the senior team and facilitate engagement with local employers.
We are now collaborating with 38 local enterprise partnerships and working with 75 FE colleges and more than 2,000 schools. Last week we published an evaluation which showed that the approach is working.
Schools and colleges in our network are now reporting 50 per cent more employer encounters than when they started working with us.
We have also funded a wide range of other organisations to scale up the best employer engagement programmes in the country, including WorldSkills and the Engineering Development Trust. So far, 250,000 young people have benefited from the first £5 million in funding.
The new strategy asks us to play a broader coordination role, using all the Gatsby benchmarks. These identify the three core pillars of good career guidance: (i) the importance of encounters – with the world of work, and with higher and further education (ii) the need for good information – about how the curriculum links to careers and the labour market; and (iii) the importance of helping a young person to develop a careers plan suited to their own passions and strengths.
Building on what was learned from a successful pilot led by Gatsby in the north-east, the strategy establishes resource for 20 local career hubs to deliver against these benchmarks. This should be welcome news for those looking for an evidence-led, locally governed solution to careers.
The careers strategy sets out a new direction for careers provision in England. It correctly identifies the national need for multifaceted and programmatic careers guidance which takes place over the longer term. We look forward to working closely with educators, employers and careers providers to deliver outcomes that last for our economy and, most importantly, for our young people.
Claudia Harris is CEO of the Careers and Enterprise Company